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Sunday, May 31, 2009


The earliest memory I have of seeing Panikker is him standing on the one platform only Parappanangadi railway station as he waited for us to get down .

The train would trundle down tired after its exhausting journey from the erstwhile Madras and todays Chennai .
we would get down with all the luggage and Paniker would be there in a jiffy a smile pasted on his face .
It would turn into a grin and slowly into a short guffaw as he came near us ,
engene undayirunu yatra ? ( how was the trip ) he would ask .
He was a short man neither thin nor fat with a pencil line moustache adorning his upper lip ,
wearing a white neat dhoti and shirt

Paniker was our tharavadu Karyasthan

I dont know how one can translate this very malayalish occupation
One could call it as an all in all ,a sort of manager ,housekeeper ,accountant cum clerk ,PRO and spokesperson of the said house all rolled into one .
( please note the picture shown is not of panikker )

It was an art to be a good karyasthan and a trusted one for years for any big house
He needed to be multifaceted and should multitask ,he needed to be a behaviour psychologist ,management executive ,and a smooth talker to be a succesful one .
He then would be like part of the family ,

our panikker was every inch a sucessful karyasthan and could easily take classes for potential karyasthanmars .
" Chozhi aa pettiyokke eduku nokki nikundenda ? "
( Chozhi take those luggage and what are you dreaming about ? )
he would command and immediately our luggage would get transported to Chozhi and his minions heads and we would start our long walk home alonside the railway track
( There was no road to my ancestral house then ) .

The booming steam engine would thunder past us with its grinning facade as it went on its way to Kozhikode .
All along our way home Panikker would keep us amused with intresting tidbits of Parappanangadi ,who died where and when ,who married whom and what happened to whom and how ,

He would also introduce us to many unknown inquisitive people and explain thier realtionships to us ,of course my mother knew most of them .
almost all of them would ask
eppo vannu epalla ponnu ? ( when did you come when are you going back ? )

Over time as I grew older his talk to me would turn purple and blue as he recited juicier anecedotes and escapades with that typical guffaw .

Panniker would be a changed person in front of Karthiyayani amma my grandmother and the reigning queen of Thekkepat Kovilakkam ( kovilakkam means palace but this name was just added because it was thekku or south of parapannat kovilakam )

The only link to royalty in my house was my grandfather P.C.Manavedan Raja of Mangavu Kovilakkam Calicut ,he was of pure blue blood the Samoothiri kind .

But he was one of the most unpretentious royalty I have ever laid my eyes upon , not that I have over many .

Thambran as he was called by the locals was most of the time in dhoti ,shirtless pottering around the garden or dragging the cow for milking or going to the market with his sword like umbrella ,very unroyalish activities

He often reminded me of lord Emsworth of Blandings castle the famous PG Wodehouse novel ,like the lord he wanted to be left alone to his garden and cow

He was a monosylabbic and would get angry very rarely ,mostly his answers would be by grunts but he would open up with Panniker as he stretched his legs in the poomukam (front of the house )and panniker would stand near him with the rain pattering its beat over thier muted conversations .

Paniker knew how to manage both these diametrically opposite individuals ,he would be all attention to my grandmother as she began her diatribe and his soft replies would be lost to my deaf grandmother who once in a while would look at him in a "ee panikerentha pariyunadhu "manner
( what the hell are you telling ? )

I wonder if she ever heard her own talking !!

she had a soft corner for me and would send Panikker running to Kuttiyappus the local mall to get me yellow banana chips to which I was addicted to ( even now )

Early morning paniker would come and would dicusss about the days work the harvest details coconut felling market rates etc
he would lead the great coconut felling expedition as I would call it
I hitched along on one such excursion ,

we started with a parambu ( field ) beyond the river cherooti having a quick swim on the way thanks to Panikers idea of telling my grandfather to walk in front before the sun comes in full force .
The moplah buyers with thier huge nets to keep thier catch would walk with us
it was fun as they counted the coconuts which fell from the trees
onnne onnu rende rendu
one had to be very vigilant as sometimes the numbers would not move up ,one also had to be alert of coconuts which fell in the bushes disappearing dragged by sleighting hands that appear from nowhere .
Tender coconuts would quench our thirst and thier soft white delightful insides cool us
We would then move offf to the next parambu ,

All this time paniker was extremely busy

During harvest time too when stacks of grain was loaded in our backyard he would be on his toes arranging everything including food for the workers

The local temple Sariyekkil Bhagavathis festival during Navarathri was one time when Panniker would be at his smiling best or during marriage receptions when his smiling face mostly hovered around the female guests .

As I grew up paniker became more of a friend
Actually I never felt like calling him paniker etta though he was elder to me by many years
he was ageless
He came to chennai for my wedding reception and the day after I went to central railway station to send him back ,I put him in his designanted seat with a nice masala dosa packet for his dinner he was happy and looking forwards to going back , suddenly someone came and said "this is my berth " to Panniker

Both paniker and the other person did have the same number in thier tickets so we called the ticket inspector he looked at the tickets and said it was a mistake by the booking clerk

( no computer reservation those days )
I took it as a good oppurtunity to do a Suresh Gopi
I raved and ranted about how stupid could the railways be giving same number to two different people and troubling both and I had a receptive audience who murmured ascent
Paniker was looking at me with pride
"Monu inginyekko patto ? "( you can talk like this ? )
suddenly someone tapped me and said
"hey look the date in your mans ticket is for tomorrow better get out before the inspector notices this,he would kill you for all your talk ."
I quickly grasped paniker and his luggage

"panikkere vittolu"
( let us go )
I never gave him time to think only later when we reached home I told him you are only going tomorrow ,you see we want you here for one more day

adhunendha kutty ......santosham ....said our poor paniker ..

paniker did live long after that but left the world and us following an inocous injury and consequent tetanus .

Thursday, May 28, 2009

LAST (ING ) WORDS ........

I was working in the oncology department in Lakeshore hospital in Kochi at that time ,

as many of you are aware we do come across terminal patients in the course of our job and in the anecedote Iam about to relate the said patient was old and dying of his widely spread malignancy .

He was a jolly old guy who had a special corner for me and always cracked jokes when I met him it was sad to see him lying without knowing anything .

I entered his room as part of my work and found him lying admidst a crowd of relatives and well wishers all come to say goodbye to the grand old man

The crowd parted to let me in

These are touchy moments for any physician for there is a sense of expectation that something is going to be done now that the good doctor has come but sadly here many knew that nothing would or could be done .

As I pottered around with my stethoscope listening to the rumbles in his chest the old man blinked twice and looked at me straight !!

This caused a collective sigh of surprise from the onlookers as he had done nothing of the kind for a long time !

my status grew and I could hear murmurs telling

look he woke up becos doctor came !!!

He likes this doctor a lot !!

I put on my best look forward and called him by name and he looked at me again and feebly whispered something

Once again the crowd mumrured approval and eagerly anticpated the events to follow

I craned forward to hear what he was trying to say isthyle

maybe he wanted to write off his property to me !

With surprising strenght he sat up and looked at me and said in clear malayalam

"Doctore ,Doctore ."

seized of the drama of the situation I answered

parayu parayu ( tell tell ) an eager tone

again he said this time slowly and very clearly

"Doctare Doctare .................the suspense was palpable

everyone was waiting for him to say it


( doctor doctor you have become too fat )

and then he just lay down and went back to his dreams ,a satisfied smile in his face of a job well done

I slinked out of the crowd smiling sheepishly as loud guffaws followed me

( ps : he lived many days after this historical pronouncement )

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Kaviyoor Sree Mahadeva Shetram is somewhere I had never visited but it is one temple whcih I would like to do so .

It just happened when I was chatting with a friend Roopesh he told me about this temple which was also that of his family deity .
He also told me a very interesting story which intrigued me .

Kaviyoor is a small hamlet in South Kerala Pathananmthita district ,nestling amongst hillocks and a cool green canopy of trees with the flowing Pampa and Manimala river washing its soul it is a town with many ancient temples .
One remembers Kaviyoor Ponamma the mother of all mothers in Malayalam films when one thinks of this place ! ( she had acted as a mother to most of the heroes from Prem Nazir to mohanlaal) .
With a literacy rate of 97 % and schools of more than fifty years its population is erudite and aware .
One of the original 64 villages estalished by Sree Parasurama its inhabitants saw both Jainism and Buddishm and later Hindu revivalism .
Its Jainism came from Karnataka and the religious harbringers selected caves for thier temples or Kavi as in old Kannada and Oor is town hence the name .
Another school of thought believes it came from Kapioor that is Kapi is lord Hanuman and later it became Kaviyoor .
It had some very famous brahmin families who were powerful .
The Kaviyoor Kindi a bronzed tailed vessel was as famous as neighbouring Aranmula Kannadi but unfortunately the last of the skilled craftsmen who knew the art died without imparting the skill to any worthy sucessor and the Kaviyoor Kindi is now lost forever !
The Kaviyoor Mahadeva temple is one of the oldest of its kind in Kerala
Though the main deity is Siva ,Hanuman has great importance and is worshipped ardently by the devotees .Vadamala is his favourite offering .
now comes the story ........
Once upon a time a member of a very famous brahmin family associated with the temple ridiculed Lord Hanuman and his ape looks .
It is said that this caused a curse to the family that even today there is one person who had the said look in every generation .
Of course I did not get any corroborating evidence to this possible myth as I never recieved any replies to my e mail enquiries to related sites !
Below are some of the photos of the temple ulsavam ....taken from the official site
my thanks for that ...
so do visit Kaviyoor Mahadeva shetram when you have time .

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


The last visit to India I found these photos in my aunts house at Chennai ,

I was attracted to it because of the celebrities in it .

I knew that Dr Sreedevi or Thangamuedathi as we fondly called her a cousin sister of my mother from Valliyil tharavadu in Parappanangadi was in the photos along with Pandit Jawarhalal Nehru Indias first prime minister along with Ms Indira Gandhi his daughter and sri Morarji Desai .

A photo where one could pose with three prime ministers of India was something different so I quickly recorded it for posterity and tried to find out the occasion when this happened .

Another aunt of mine Ms Parvathy Menon a writer herself answered my queries .

Dr Sreedevi graduated from Kilpauk medical college chennai in Ayurvedic medicine

( I think it was integrated medicine )

incidentally myself and my wife studied in this college and it is close to our hearts ,

those days it was called the Indian college of medicine .

Dr Sreedevi after graduation went to Dehradun and worked as resident doctor in Kanya Gurukul where she was very popular and known as Dr Behenji .

She married Dr Nambiar in 1947 and moved to Hubli where they practised for many years .

She was socially very active in Hubli and was its muncipal councillar when these dignitaries visited and thus the photo

I love to delve into the rich tapestry of my family but to get correct information is a problem with few sources .

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sheik Zayed mosque

Last weekend when Ihad a chance to attend the NCCN regional conference and stay at the exclusive Armed forces officers club ,AbuDhabi city ,the first thing I noticed was its proximity to the Grand mosque or Sheik Zayed mosque one of the the worlds largest .

In fact whenever I drove into Abudhabi or returned to AlAin the mosque loomed like a mystical castle attracting me to visit its splendour but I kept putting it off, but this day I was determined to do so and I did ,and it turned out to be one the best experiences in my life .

It was half a kilometre from the club and I decided to walk it ,

none accompanied me as my friends turned me down opting instead for a nap in thier rooms at the end of the day in the conference hall ,

the sun was still up at 4pm and as I crossed the bridge ,flyover and roundabout I was the only person on the road could see the speeding cars below in the road leading away from Abudhabi

the mosque loomed in front becoming bigger and bigger as I approached .
It shimmered in the sun and its golden turrets glowed against the burnished sky ,

reaching its marbled corridors I could forget the warm walk as it was cool and pleasant .

Shiek Zayeds memorial

( where he is buried adjacent to the mosque )

was a hallowed place and one could see through the chinks a mullah deep in prayers ,incense perfuming the atmosphere .

H.H.Shiek Zayed was a charismatic and much liked ruler and is known too all and respected as the father of the Uited Arab Emirates .

I then ventured into the mosque itself entering into the cavernous marbled courtyard the size of a couple of football fields

The corridors had pillars filled with floral motifs ,

One was reminded of the Taj Mahal which should have been in the back of the mind of the designers .

The world largest carpet adorned the floor of the cental hall and huge chandeliers lighted the room as the devout prayed in the altar .

One had total freedom to enter the mosque regardless of religion.

The visit was a spiritual and wholesome experience for me and I walked back with satisfaction that my long due visit was more than what I thought would be .
The picture below shows an Airforce plane in the armed forces officers club and in the background one can see the fading silhoutte of the grand mosque ,
let the forces of violence in us humans be smothered by the all supreme .

some facts on the mosque from weikipedia :

Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the sixth largest mosque in the world.[1][2][3] It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and the first President of the United Arab Emirates, who is also buried there. The mosque was officially opened in the Islamic month of Ramadan in 2007.
Although it is illegal for non-Muslims to enter mosques in the United Arab Emirates, this mosque will be an exception. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority announced that tours of the mosques will be given to both
Muslims and non-Muslims beginning in mid-March 2008 in order to promote cultural and religious understanding.[4]

The design of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque has been inspired by Mughal and Moorish mosque architecture, the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore and the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca being direct influences. The dome layout and floorplan of the mosque was inspired by the Badshahi Mosque and the architecture was inspired by both Mughal and Moorish design, particularly the Badshahi Mosque and the Hassan II Mosque. Its archways are quintessentially Moorish and its minarets classically Arab. The design of the mosque can be best described as a fusion of Arab, Mughal and Moorish architecture.

The Mosque is large enough to accommodate 40,000 worshippers. The main prayer hall can accommodate up to 9,000 worshippers. Two rooms next to the main prayer hall, with a 1,500-capacity each, are for the exclusive use of women.
There are four minarets on the four corners of the mosque which rise about 115 m (380 ft) in height. There are 57 domes covering the outside yard and the main building as well. The domes are decorated with white
marble and the interior decoration is made of marble. The courtyard is paved with floral marble designs and measures about 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft).

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque made some world records:
The carpet laid out on the vast expanse is the “World's Largest Carpet” made by Iran's Carpet Company and designed by
Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi.[5] This carpet measures 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft), and was made by around 1,200 weavers, 20 technicians, and 30 workers. The weight of this carpet is 47 tons – 35 tons of wool, and 12 tons of cotton. There are 2,268,000 knots within the carpet.
This mosque also holds the largest
chandelier. There are seven imported chandeliers from Germany and are copper and gold-plated. The largest chandelier has a 10 m (33 ft) diameter and a 15 m (49 ft) height.[6]
Both of these records were previously held by the
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman.

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